Bel-Air Gites is a small family-run business and our family live onsite all year round. We fully understand how important it is to ensure that your family and friends are safe during your time here. That is why we want to reassure you that we strictly follow the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the French government. It is also the reason we have come up with our new ‘Exclusive Use’ offer for 2021.
What is ‘Exclusive Use’?
This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we are introducing a new holiday package, aimed at giving you some peace of mind during these difficult times. With our new ‘Exclusive Use’ package you can hire both of our large family gites, that can accommodate up to 13 people. You will have exclusive use of the gite complex, including the gardens, children’s play areas and our huge outdoor pool with sun loungers. We guarantee that no other guests will be booked in to any other accommodation for the same dates. In addition, we will provide hand sanitiser sprays and cleaning products around the complex, and in the gites for your added protection.
Peace of mind
For just €2600 per week you can stay in our two family gites, Châtaigniers and Chouette ,with full unlimited access to all our fantastic family facilities. This will give you total peace of mind, and a wonderful time shared with your loved ones. Our special package is only available by booking direct with Bel-Air Gites. Availability is limited due to already confirmed bookings, so call us now to check availability and get a great deal.
If only we were lucky enough to have a view like this from our living room window. I could happily sit and watch the waves everyday. We might not live on the beach but we do have lots of beautiful, white sandy beaches on our doorstep. It’s one of the reason we chose Bel-Air Gites as our home, because even just a couple of hours on the beach gives us an energy boost, whatever the weather.
Sound of the sea
At present, in the latest COVID-19 restrictions for our area, the beaches are not out of bounds but they are wonderfully quiet. Even in the peak season, our nearest one, Barzan Plage, is not busy and it’s lovely to just stroll along listening to the sound of the sea. When we’re feeling energetic we walk from there to Talmont-sur-Gironde and back, just to take in the view from Eglise Sainte-Radegonde, on the top of the cliff.
Where would you go?
So what would be your ideal location? If you could live anywhere you wanted would it be in a city, or by the sea? A huge mansion with it’s own golf course, or self-sufficient and living off the land? But then where would you escape to on holiday? Perhaps somewhere with beaches, ancient churches and beautiful chateaux. Water sports and woodland walks, hiking and cycling trails, golf courses and fishing – lots of activities for all the family. Well then, you must be thinking of escaping to the Charente-Maritime because we have got all of that, and much much more.
We all need to have something to look forward to and with the COVID-19 vaccinations progressing well across Europe, we should all be feeling a little more confident that things will soon be getting back to normal. We are busy making plans, and so are some of our previous guests, who have already booked to stay this summer. So if you are planning a trip to France this year why not come and stay at Bel-Air Gites? We are child-friendly, family-friendly and COVID-secure.
And if you book now a low 10% deposit will secure your booking for your best ever family holiday! Think of those fantastic BBQs on your own private patio. Your own sunbeds by the pool, spacious gardens for the kids to play in and lots of amazing family attractions close by. Pay your low deposit now to secure your reservation, and then pay the balance 8 weeks before the start of your holiday. Rest assured that we will be totally flexible with all bookings if there are any further changes in the COVID situation. If you are worried at all about booking now, just give us a call and we will talk it through with you.
Everything you need
Here at Bel-Air Gites we understand how important it is for you to get away from the everyday stresses and strains of daily life. That’s why we provide everything you need to make your stay with us as relaxing and enjoyable as possible.
Like most people, once Christmas is over then it’s sale time. Travel agents, ferry companies and budget airlines – you can grab some great deals for your favourite holiday destination if you act fast. And if you are staying at Bel-Air Gites you can literally plan to escape on holiday at The Escape Place. It’s only 10 minutes from our family gites complex and has been getting really good reviews.
Enter the heart of an enclosed, mysterious space and try to escape by finding the key to the puzzles.
The Escape Place is accessible to all, although it could be difficult for anyone with restricted mobility. With teams of 3 to 6 people (children and adults allowed) you have an hour to escape. Test your thinking skills and your team spirit in two unique indoor historical adventures! They also have quad bikes if you prefer an outdoor adventure, and these are available all-year round. The quad route takes you between vineyards and the estuary so the whole family can make some great memories.
Walk through the door, and live a unique historical experience in total immersion!
You will need to check out the T&Cs on their website because there are some restrictions. But if you want to make some wonderful memories what better way to do it than with team work. There are three different adventures to choose from to test your thinking skills to solve all the clues. Will you be able to find the secret documents?
Relax and Unwind
After a hectic day solving puzzles or exploring the countryside, what better way to unwind than in the pool? Our large swimming pool at Bel-Air Gites is the perfect place to chill out. Grab a book, sit back and watch the kids playing in the water. Or join in the fun, and make the most of all the toys and games we provide. Everything is included so you can enjoy your holiday, and not have to bring it all with you.
We are confident that we have thought of everything, but if there is something you need, just get in touch. We will try and ensure that whatever you need is available exclusively for you for the length of your stay.
If ever we needed a glass of mulled wine, twinkling lights on a Christmas tree and carol-singers on the doorstep, it would be now! Winter is finally upon us. There’s a definite drop in temperature, more rain, shorter days, and long dark nights. We are all feeling a little bit sluggish at Bel-Air Gites, so we have been looking at ways to banish the winter blues. And we are going to do this by looking and planning ahead.
Ready to hibernate
None of us can really justify hibernating for 4 months until springtime, so we will have to get active. We need to find ways to push through the ‘winter blues’, and not dwell on the events of 2020. Even though Christmas is just around the corner, we are looking ahead to the New Year more than ever before. Our plans for Christmas are all in hand so we will (hopefully) avoid unnecessary stress. Christmas dinner is all planned out, and the presents have been bought and wrapped. This year we might even find time to relax over the holidays, and read a book or watch a film.
Keep in touch
Not seeing loved ones can have a negative impact but thanks to modern technology it’s easy to stay in touch. Social time spent virtually with friends and family has helped remind us that people are thinking of us. And what better time to speak to people than over Christmas, especially as some people may still be self-isolating.
One thing that works to banish the winter blues, for us anyway, is to start planning. The garden doesn’t need much work in the winter, but it doesn’t mean we can forget about it. So when we open our gates to guests next year it’s not just the gites that have to be in tip-top condition. It’s the gardens, pool and children’s play areas too. Because we would hate to disappoint any of our returning regulars and new guests. We have a few little changes in the pipeline as well, so make sure you keep a close eye on our website and Facebook page.
Think Sunshine and Bel-Air Gites
To help banish the winter blues and get you thinking about the summer sun, here’s a little reminder of what you can find in and around Bel-Air Gites.
What is most important when booking your family holiday?
Knowing what matters the most will help ensure that you have a fantastic holiday with your family and friends. Here are our 5 tips to help you when you are next booking your family holiday. And coincidentally, we think Bel-Air Gites ranks very highly on all five counts.
1. Great Location
Location has to be top of the list when you are booking a holiday. If you have already decided that you want to visit France then there are so many beautiful places to choose from. Location will depend on how you are travelling too. Most of our guests either have their own car or hire a car from the airport. And unless you are flying into somewhere like Bordeaux or La Rochelle for a city break, then driving is the best way to explore the area. If you don’t want to take the car every day, then you can easily hire a bike for a few days. We recommend Bike Hire Direct as they can deliver to and collect from your holiday accommodation.
There are not many places that can beat the diversity of the Charente-Maritime. Our Bel-Air child-friendly gites complex is perfectly located for white sandy beaches, theme parks, and stunning forest walks. We are also close to some of France’s most beautiful chateaus and historical cities, such as Bordeaux, Cognac and La Rochelle.
2. Amazing Accommodation
When booking your family holiday you want somewhere that has lots of room for adults and children to sleep, and spend time together, without getting under each others feet.
The best accommodation should be fully-kitted out with all the essentials, so that you can dine in without having to source extra pots and pans. If you have small children or toddlers then you should also look for little extras like pushchairs, stair gates and baby monitors. Because the less you have to pack, the less stressful your holiday will be.
Our self-catering family accommodation consists of a traditional Charentaise farmhouse and four rustic-style gites. So there is ample space for all your family and friends. And we provide everything you need for a relaxing stress-free holiday, so you don’t have to.
Here at Bel-Air gîtes we have created a wonderful fun haven for children and toddlers, somewhere they can play safely all day while you relax, unwind and have a stress-free holiday. Our large outdoor swimming pool, playground and trampoline are a big hit with all our guests. As are the fully-equipped gites with private patios, garden furniture, and the all important barbecue. Each gite also has an allocated area with sun loungers by the pool. So there’s no need to get up extra early to make sure you get a good spot.
3. Places to Go
The last thing you need when you are on holiday is the kids saying they are bored. But likewise, you don’t want to have to spend half your holiday driving around looking for things to do. So your holiday accommodation needs to be in a good location with plenty of family attractions on the doorstep. You also need to consider how close it is to shops, and cafes or bars where you can grab a coffee and watch the world go by.
Time spent travelling while you’re on holiday can be more stressful. You can reduce travelling and stress levels by planning your days out. This can also help with advanced bookings for theme parks, or family attractions, and might even get you a better price.
Here at Bel-Air we are surrounded by a multitude of attractions, and there is something to suit everyone, young or old. The nearby market town of Gémozac has plenty of cash-points, supermarkets, tabacs, cafes and restaurants. If you want to take in some French culture and shop for the freshest ingredients for your barbecue the local markets are the best places to go. Royan market has an excellent selection of fresh, local produce and is open 7 days a week from 7 am – 1 pm. It really is a gastronomic experience with its huge selection of stalls selling fruit and veg, meats, local cheeses, seafood, bread and gateaux.
We have listed our Top 10 attractions on our website, but if there is anything you are particularly keen to see or do then just get in touch. We’ve also created a planner that you can download, so everyone can add something that they want to do. Plan in advance to cut down on travel time.
It’s difficult to describe any family holiday as ‘a holiday of a lifetime’, unless you are planning to climb Mount Everest or go swimming with sharks. But you do want everyone to remember the holiday because they had such a fantastic time.
Seeing your child’s face light up when they step into the Futuroscope amusement park, or when they go out on a boat taxi at La Rochelle. These are all moments we treasure for a lifetime.
Making wonderful lasting memories is what we try to do. Our Bel-Air Gites guests always tell us that they never want the holiday to end. And when we have families coming back every year, not as guests but as friends, we know they love their holidays here.
This has to be the most important part of any holiday, especially for the adults. You want to be able to relax doing something that you love. Whether that’s playing golf, walking, fishing, swimming or just putting your feet up. You need time and space to chill-out, and recharge your batteries.
Here at Bel-Air Gites we take care of everything. Within the grounds we have created a safe environment for children of all ages to have fun and create happy memories. With a large playground full of swings, a slide, a climbing frame, trampoline and tunnels. And a large, heated outdoor pool that is fenced in and securely gated so your little ones can’t get in or out unsupervised. That is one less thing for you to worry about.
At Bel-Air gites we have years of experience in providing child-friendly, fun-filled family holidays and are confident that we have can provide everything you need. We want it to be your best family holiday ever.
The French are very passionate about their beloved game of Pétanque. And contrary to popular belief, it isn’t only played by old men drinking Pastis. Women take part too, and it’s also popular with the younger generation. In fact, Pétanque (or boules) can be played by anyone, young or old, male or female. And with the 2024 Olympic games due to be held in Paris, it couldn’t be a more perfect time for petanque to be recognised as an Olympic event.
The ‘Confédération Mondiale des Sports de Boules’ have been lobbying for inclusion in the games since 1985. But sadly, the organising committee for the Paris games have already decided that it isn’t to be. Instead the new events could include break-dancing, skateboarding, climbing and surfing.
Origins of the game
Most French people would probably like you to believe that they invented the game of boules. However, its origins can be traced back a very long way. The people of ancient Greece and Egypt used to play games tossing coins and stones. But it was the Romans who came up with the idea of aiming at a target. In this case, the boules target is called a ‘cochonnet’ or piglet. It’s very similar to the jack used in crown green bowling.
The name comes from the french words pieds tanqués, meaning ‘feet planted’ (on the ground). This has gradually evolved into the current name, pétanque. It is also commonly referred to as boules, which is the name for the set of three metal balls used to play it. Boules are much smaller and lighter than the typical bowl used in crown green bowling.
Unlike bowls, pétanque can be played on almost any flat, open space. When an area is constructed specifically for playing petanque, the ‘terrain’ is usually just loose gravel. Sandy beaches are not really suitable for playing with the heavy metal boules, but lighter, plastic boules are available. These are great for the beach, and of course we have a set at Bel-Air Gites that our guests can use during their stay.
In France, you will quite often see village squares and park pathways being used as pétanque playing areas. In addition, a lot of towns have recreational facilities (boulodromes) built especially for playing the game.
How to Play
Our advice for playing boules is don’t take it too seriously. Anyone can play and as it’s generally a team game, have a mix of ages and abilities on each team. Flip a coin to see who plays first. A member from the team that won the toss should toss the jack in any direction. It should be about 6 – 10 metres away from them. And a couple of metres from any object that might interfere with someone’s throw, a tree for example.
After throwing the jack a member of the same team throws the first boule. They have to try to get it as close to the jack as possible. Then a member from the second team throws. They either try and knock their opponents boule out of the way, or throw to get closer to the jack. If they succeed in either of these then they have the lead. The team that isn’t closest to the jack must play the next boule. And so on until they are closest to the jack, or run out of boules.
Count the scores
After all boules have been thrown, the team whose best boule is closest to the jack wins the round. The winning team gets one point for each of their boules that is closer to the jack than the losing team’s closest boule. The losing team don’t score any points. The winning team starts the next round in the same way as the first one, tossing the jack and throwing the first boule.
Don’t worry, if you don’t understand the rules. We will happily show you how to play when you come over for your next holiday.
Way of life
The reason why we love playing boules is because it is a great game for all the family. There’s no running around after a ball, and it can be played almost anywhere. When it’s hot, as it is now in the sunny Charente-Maritime, then play boules under the trees in the shade.
For the adults, why not try it with a glass of Pastis? Who knows, maybe you will enjoy the french way of life as much as we do. And you will want to come back to Bel-Air child-friendly gites year after year, for more fantastic, fun-filled family holidays.
Welcome to Bel-Air Gites in the Sunny Charente-Maritime!
The Vendée-Charentes area of France is reputed to be one of the sunniest parts of France. And within this area, it is the sunny Charente-Maritime department that benefits from the highest number of annual hours of sunshine.
Along with the French Riviera, the sunny Charente-Maritime is renowned for having one of the most pleasant climates in France. We have a unique micro-climate because of our proximity to the Atlantic Coast. It means that the winters are really mild, and the summers are long and hot, but not muggy. We get an average of 2400 hours of sunshine a year. That makes it the hottest and sunniest place on the whole Atlantic coast!
Today is no exception. Glorious sunshine and perfect for a leisurely stroll around the port at Mortagne sur Gironde!
Peace and Tranquillity
We usually start our walk from the top, and look out over La Gironde estuary, and marshes. On a sunny day there are always lots of families out and about. Walking, cycling and even the occasional horse-rider. It’s a beautiful area, and if you particularly enjoy peace and tranquillity, then we recommend you visit the Hermitage Saint Martial. The site was first mentioned in a tale about the life of Saint Martial, written around 1020. Since 1878 priests and volunteers have taken care of the site, and it has been carefully restored so that it lasts for future generations. The coolness of the cave is a blessing if you have been out in the sun for too long.
If you stay for the day, or just want a pleasant lunch overlooking the port, then you won’t be disappointed. There is a good variety of restaurants – traditional, gourmet cuisine, pizzerias, fish and seafood. Or if you want to pick something up to bring back to Bel-Air Gites there are a few takeaway services too.
Montagne-sur-Gironde is only a 10 minute drive from Bel-Air Gites, and it is a pleasant local destination, favoured by all our guests. A perfect family day-out would be a quick dip in the pool at Bel-Air before breakfast, then drive out for lunch and a leisurely stroll around the town. Bag yourself some BBQ favourites from the market and head back to Bel-Air Gites. Play, swim, sunbathe, barbecue then relax… on your own private patio.
Do as much as you want, or as little as you want. Bel-Air Gites is all about making wonderful memories whilst having a fantastic family holiday in the sunny Charente-Maritime.
Meschers-sur-Gironde is not only famous for its beaches, but also the limestone cliffs and naturally-formed caves.
Located 15 km from Royan, Meschers-sur-Gironde is only 30 minutes drive from Bel-Air Gites in the Charente-Maritime. The Grottes du Régulus and Grottes du Fontaines have been owned by the town council since 1980. After several years of restoration work, to ensure they were safe for visitors, the caves were opened to the public. It’s an incredible place with a long and colourful history.
This exceptional environment welcomes more than 70,000 visitors a year and is a major tourist attraction in the Charente-Maritime. Open between April and November, they offer guided tours during the day with written translations in several languages. There are also touch-pads available for the deaf or hard of hearing.
One evening a week they hold an original and interactive show in the caves, for adults and children. Hosted by local comedians, amateur dramatics groups and volunteers, the show tells the story of the caves’ famous inhabitants. It’s a popular event that sells out quickly, so if you want to go, be sure to book in advance.
In the waning light of day, the shadows plunge the caves into a most mysterious atmosphere
There’s a ‘Minidik The Shrimp‘ quiz for kids, and evening walks in July and August, ideal for all the family. In the evening, doors open between 9pm and 11pm, with the ticket office closing at 10.30pm.
It really is a great day out and the history of the caves at Meschers-sur-Gironde dates back centuries. Find out about the people that used to live there; how they were used to protect the coast from the English fleet, and how ‘Grottes du Régulus’ got their name. It’s a fascinating place!
Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, sadly the caves had to close in March 2020. But keep a lookout for their new 2021 opening times on their Facebook page.
Plan Your Trip
Be sure to include a trip to Meschers on your summer 2021 Bel-Air Gites holiday ‘To Do List’. If you need any more information about the caves, or any other trips, please get in touch. We are always happy to help and want all our visitors to have a fantastic family holiday.
Make wonderful family memories at Bel-Air. Child-friendly gites in the beautiful Charente-Maritime
With an array of natural habitats, flora and fauna, the landscape of the Ile de Ré changes colour with each season. There are different shows, festivals and markets, and something to see and do all year round.
The wonderfully diverse island of ‘Ile de Ré’ is just 90 minutes drive from Bel-Air Gites in the Charente-Maritime. Like it’s sister, Ile d’Oleron, it is a paradise for water-sport enthusiasts. With plenty of land-based activities as well, there is never a dull moment.
You and your family will definitely have a memorable day out.
To get to the island you can take the ferry crossing from La Rochelle or drive across bridge. However you decide to get there, we recommend that you plan your day out because some activities will need to be booked in advance.
If you have brought your own bikes, or you have hired some for your holiday, there are around 100 kms of cycle paths on Ile de Ré. You and your family can safely discover the beauty of the island by yourselves or on guided tours. Or if you are little more adventurous, why not go horse-riding along the beaches and forest paths?
For walkers and hiking enthusiasts there are guided tours and trails across moors and woodlands, and through charming fishing villages.
For the water-sports enthusiast there is a huge variety of options for the novice and the pro. From sailing by yacht, dinghy or catamaran. To surfing, kite-surfing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing and paddle-boarding. Lessons are available for children and adults throughout the year, at various locations around the island.
Take it easy
If you prefer a slower pace, why not take a picnic and find a quiet, secluded spot on one of the long, beautiful sandy beaches? Take a leisurely stroll around some of the village markets, or grab yourself a bargain at one of the antique fairs.
For adult-only, total indulgence, why not go for some pampering and pure relaxation? With two spa centres, Ile de Ré is one of the favourite destinations for lovers of seaside spa treatments. The spa centres offer seawater treatments, hammams, saunas, jacuzzis, and hydro-massages.
Ile de Ré is an authentic, unspoiled and natural island
It’s been very quiet at Bel-Air Gites recently. We have spent a lot of time in the garden, tidying up the gites, the pool area and Play barn. It still feels very strange that we are not busy with guests, check-ins and change-overs. Like so many families, the last few months have helped us to appreciate what we have got. And to learn not to take anyone, or anything for granted. We especially appreciated all the calls and video chats that lifted our spirits and made us smile. It made us we wish you were here.
Even though we have had enquiries for this summer, as a family we have decided to ease ourselves very slowly back into a more normal routine.
Now we are happy to report that Bel-Air Gites is open for business, and taking bookings for 2021. In fact, we have had so many enquiries already, it looks like it’s going to be an incredibly busy summer!
If you are planning your next holiday, here are a few very good reasons for you to get in touch. Make sure you don’t miss out.
You only have to check out our reviews to see that we are recognised as one of the best, family-friendly holiday businesses in the Charente-Maritime.
At Bel-Air gites you will have everything that you need to make this your family’s home-from-home. Wish you were here?
And we mean ‘everything’
We want it to be your best family holiday ever and we start by providing all the basic kiddie essentials. Whether you have babies, toddlers or bigger kids, twins, triplets or even quads, at Bel-Air gites we provide everything.
Cots and linen, high-chairs, pushchairs, baby baths, stair gates, changing mats, baby monitors, booster seats, potties and toilet trainer seats.
Steriliser bags, child steps, bath/shower non-slip mats, child proof cupboard and window locks, bath toys and children’s cutlery
A hand blender, night lights, blackout blinds
Bath towels, hand towels and pool towels, even for the babies
If you can think of something that we haven’t listed let us know. We will do our very best to provide it for you. You can rest-assured that all of these items will be completely sanitised between check-ins. Our guests’ health and safety has, and always will be, our top priority.
Child-friendly means more than just providing a cot and high chair.
At Bel-Air we have four individual gîtes (holiday cottages) and a large farmhouse. They sleep between 4 to 6 guests, so they’re ideal for small families, or for bigger groups that want to holiday together.
All the gîtes are fully furnished and well-equipped, including TVs showing UK and French TV channels and DVD players. We also provide Free WiFi so you can keep in touch with friends, and share your wonderful holiday experience!
Each gîte has it’s own private patio area with barbecue and garden furniture. Large enough for you to dine ‘al fresco’, the patio area is the perfect place to wind down. Enjoy a chilled glass of wine, and watch the sun setting across the fields. I bet you wish you were here now.
As if the accommodation wasn’t enough, we have created a safe and secure environment for children of all ages. They can play, have fun and create happy childhood memories.
We have a large playground full of swings, a slide, a climbing frame, trampoline and tunnels. The large, heated outdoor pool is fenced in, and securely gated so your little ones can’t get in or out unsupervised. You can relax and enjoy your holiday, while the kids have fun being pirates and little mermaids.
The Playbarn at Bel-Air Gites is a massive hit with children of all ages, and the adults too. There is a large selection of toys, books, DVD’s and games, including a pool table, footballs, and other outdoor games.
Health & Safety
Our guests’ health and safety has, and always will be, our top priority. And we pride ourselves on keeping all the activity areas safe, clean and as up-to-date as possible.
From next year we are introducing more flexible arrival and departure dates. This will ensure that we have a full 24 hours in between all bookings. The extra hours will enable the team at Bel-Air to more thoroughly cleanse the property inside and out, and to ventilate the rooms. Hand sanitisers will also be provided in each gite.
If you have any questions regarding the cleaning process or products used, especially related to allergens, then please contact us before booking.
Your Bel-Air holiday retreat is perfectly located in the beautiful sunny Charente-Maritime. Surrounded by a wide variety of exciting, and fascinating attractions you will find something to suit all ages.
Beautiful seaside villages of Saint Georges de Didonne, Talmont, Meschers sur Gironde and Royan. The picturesque islands of Ile de Re and Ile d’Oleron. All these are at the top of the favourite family holiday destination list. And they are all only a short drive from Bel-Air Gites.
We’ve put together our list of the most popular family attractions in the area. But there are so many nearby, you will need to stay longer to fit them all in.
Do you need any more reasons? We don’t want you to miss out. Book with us today and have the family holiday of a lifetime.
Bel-Air Gites, child-friendly holidays in the sunny Charente-Maritime.